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Coronavirus lockdown: What states are doing to help the poor and unorganised workers

From Kerala’s Rs 20,000 crore package to free rations and allowance for labourers, many states are taking steps to mitigate the economic effects of Covid-19.

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New Delhi: The central government is planning a slew of measures to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, but many states have taken the lead in earmarking allocations and relief measures for the poor and those in the unorganised sector.

The packages announced by many states have centred around making foodgrains available to the poor, financial aid to labourers and construction workers, and expediting pension to be paid to poor beneficiaries.

Economists and Right to Food activists have been very vocal on the need for direct income transfer to the poorest sections of society, at a time when many livelihoods have been disrupted by the halt in economic activity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what some of the big states have announced:

Also read: Modi’s poorly planned lockdown won’t save us from coronavirus, but will kill economy


Kerala was the first state to offer a comprehensive relief package to the needy, worth Rs 20,000 crore.

The package includes loans for families under its Kudumbashree scheme that aims at poverty eradication and women empowerment, advance payments of pension to senior citizens, Rs 1,000 to families not eligible for other social welfare pensions, and front-loading of spending on the rural employment guarantee scheme.

Families have also been promised one month of cereals. The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government also proposes to set up food stalls to provide subsidised or free meals for the poor. It has also allowed delayed payment of water and electricity bills.

The government has said the state will ensure that nobody goes hungry, and plans to start a community kitchen in every panchayat. After the national lockdown was announced, Vijayan said a dedicated number has been assigned where people can make a free call and get food delivered to their location.

Vijayan also said the onus is on the panchayats to ensure hot, clean food reaches people who may be old, poor, ill or differently abled.

Uttar Pradesh

UP was also one of the earliest states to announce financial relief for labourers. Last Saturday, the state government announced it will give Rs 1,000 to each of the around 35 lakh labourers as ‘maintenance allowance’.

Besides this, 1.65 crore construction workers will be given free ration for a month, a release issued by the state government said.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also directed his officials to release payments for workers registered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

Also read: ‘Yogi not listening to PM’: Row over CM attending event to shift Ram Lalla during lockdown


Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also announced on 21 March that his government will pay Rs 4,000-5,000 pension to 8.5 lakh beneficiaries by 7 April. It will also give free rations, with 50 per cent more quantity than normal entitlements, to 72 lakh beneficiaries.


Bihar has decided to give free ration for a month to all ration card holders.

The Nitish Kumar-led government has also announced three months of advance pension for the elderly, disabled persons and widows, Rs 1,000 financial assistance to families in lockdown areas (before the whole country went under lockdown), and a performance bonus equivalent to one month’s pay to the health workers battling Covid-19.


The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government has also allocated Rs 45 crore to districts worst affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Thackeray has appealed to businesses, including small shopkeepers, to not fire their staff during this period.

The Maharashtra labour commissioner has directed labour department officials to issue advisories in this regard to employers and owners of all establishments.

Also read: Rail coach as ICU — how Modi govt plans to beat healthcare gaps in remote areas

Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu has also promised one month’s free ration, including rice, cooking oil, pulses and sugar, to all ration card holders. The Edappadi Palaniswami-led government has also promised cash support of Rs 1,000 to them.


Karnataka’s B.S. Yediyurappa government has announced loan waivers for the urban poor, Rs 1,000 for construction workers who have been rendered jobless, and advance payment of wages to beneficiaries of the rural employment guarantee scheme.

The government had decided to allow free food to be served through the Indira Canteens, the food chain it runs, to help labourers and people from the unorganised sector eat as restaurants have been shut. However, the huge rush at the canteens forced the government to shut them down due to fears of community spread of the coronavirus.

Now, the government has sought the help of the police and other essential service departments to help distribute free food and clean water to the homeless and those in need.

Andhra Pradesh

The Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh government has announced that all government and private establishments shall make payments of wages and salaries to those working, under contract or outsourcing basis, during the lockdown.

It has also said that if any employer is found violating this order, they would be penalised under the Epidemics Diseases Act, 1897.

West Bengal

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee announced Monday that the state government is creating a Rs 200-crore fund to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

(With inputs from Rohini Swamy)

Also read: This is how coronavirus lockdowns have worked in China, S. Korea, Italy and US

(This report has been updated with new information from different states)

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  1. I am a private school teacher. What benefits are we going to get during this lock down period, when schools are not ready to pay our salary for those months, we haven’t worked?

  2. Please educate to the people to make the masks at home during lockdown. The government should give the raw material and purchase from the people.
    Thank you
    Jagadish Salimath
    C/o Basutkar building
    14 th cross, Vidyagiri,
    Bagalkot. 587102

  3. How can common public like me help poor people how to provide money or food for the needy any helpline we can’t go out.

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